Yesterday's post by christy made me think more about these words: BIG HOOK HIGH CONCEPT.

Therefore, #4 on our countdown of best/worst things about being an aspring author is wtccibhhc?? (what the christmas cookies is big hook/high concept?) Just kidding - it's clicking on blog links that totally give you self-doubt no matter how helpful they really are (worst) vs. clicking on those that validate you and your work (best). 

I finished my girl-meets-boy last January. I edited it. People critiqued it. I edited it. I added parts, subtracted parts, increased word counts, decreased adjectives/adverbs (don't get me started on "had" and "that" subtractions - oh, and "just" and "really"). I've been told that great writing trumps all. Right? RIGHT??!!

Then it occurs to me - is this big hook/high concept? I think Kiersten White caused the panic attack. I had an idea. Some of it even made it into my book. My voice, my writing, and my characters have all evolved into something I think is great. Yes, I have a hook. Really, I do. But a recent trip to Borders had me doubting it all (are you kidding me? 8 wall-sized shelves for fantasy/paranormal and one measley waist-high unit for contemporary, which, btw, was filled with huge, bestselling names because there wasn't any room for debut authors who weren't blurbed by, ironically, fantasy/paranormal authors!!!!!!!!! [that might be an exaggeration. but not by much.])

is this big enough to catch a publishing contract?

Then I read this YA Highway post and calmed down a bit.

I wrote a book about a girl who meets a boy. Is that enough? (umm, no, don't answer that. but if you want to know more, see my query post here) (and I've edited again since then. It's now 65,000 words. The 3,000 additions are all PURE AWESOME, believe me).

What about you? Is your genre big hook/high concept? Have you sat back and worried about this stupid important point?


  1. I think the book I'm wanting to write at the moment might (hopefully) fall under the category of high concept. Only time will tell. Great post!

  2. I always wondered what the opposite of high concept was - low concept sounds sort of insulting - but that's what my book is. It's got so many different things going on, I'd let Rex Ryan suck my toes in exchange for a "hooky" way to describe it

  3. Jeffrey - New ideas are always the best thing about being an aspiring author! Good luck!!

    Mike - I know. At least you have the manatee. (eww, Rex Ryan? you might be more devoted than I am)

  4. I've been wrestling with the hook for my short story this morning and now I'm wrestling with the rest of it! Good luck with your finished MSS.
    Happy Christmas :O)

  5. You never know, the paranormal stuff might be on the way out and realistic stuff might be trending by the time your book comes out! Yeay optimism!

  6. Mine is high concept but that comes with it's own issues. I've been rejected by people because they weren't looking for high concept and told that it's too commercial. Ugh. Sometimes we just have to write the best book we can and go forward with it!

  7. Madeleine - Hooks are even more important in short stories, I think. Not enough time to develop the characters, voice, etc. Good luck!

    Colene - There are more agents/publishers looking for contemporary these days. Thanks for the optimism!

    Heather - Too commercial???!!! Ugh. Best of luck with the submissions you have out there!

  8. I try not to worry about this. I am concentrating on writing the best way I can. Good writing always wins out ....

    Isn't it hard enough just to worry about that? I spent over a year honing and murdering my ms. Do I really have to worry about what's in?

    I don't think so. There is always room for another well written story.

    Erica, I warned you about the yo-yo. lol


  9. I recently submitted a short story that was going to be published, and talk about worry- I worried about my hook, i must have rewrote my starting paragraph a zillion times (or atleast it felt like that).

  10. Oh yes, I worry all the time. My book is fantasy, but it's not paranormal or magical realism...it's a fantasy that completely takes place in a made up world, with made up names and has nothing to do with today's world. And that is what scares me- that agents/publishers are looking for the paranormal or realistic twist on these and I don't have that. I'm also worried that EVERYONE is writing YA fantasy nowadays and it'll be so much harder to get my book published then it would have been if I started 10 years ago like I should have. But, all we can do is push forward, write our little hearts out, and believe in ourselves.

  11. Erica and Christy-Just so you know I gave your blog a shout-out as part of my week of blog shout-outs. It's on my Thursday posting. Happy holidays!

  12. Summer - it does feel like a zillion sometimes, doesn't it? Congrats on the publishing - you'll see your words in print and think "I can't believe I wrote that wonderful paragraph." :)

    Abby - I think there's so many people writing YA (period) it's harder. I read a blog today that was written by a 14-year-old on her third ms. So apparently I should have started about 20 years ago.

    Jeffrey - yay, that's so nice of you! We're flattered to be part of such good company!!

  13. One of my books is monsters versus pirates. That's definitely the best-sounding one. I couldn't say if it's actually the best book I've written though.

    Louise Curtis


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